Dear Rahul Gandhi,
You may not recall but I wrote you an open letter in this column some months ago. I requested you then to give up your presidency. I said that would be your greatest sacrifice for the nation and a credit for the family known for many such sacrifices since the days of your great great grandfather Motilal Nehru.
Many will tell you to desist. They will cry copious tears and block your way. But they are protecting their backs and do not really care about you or the country. You are their meal ticket, their access to privilege. Ignore them. They will quickly become chamchas of whoever is the next president. Please tell Priyanka to get out as well.
Your resignation would be a radical event. It will mark the end of political feudalism. Until your grandmother changed the Congress into her personal fiefdom, there was no family-based party. All parties, Left or Right, had some cadre base and some internal party democracy, as they all copied the British model. Once the Congress had become a family-led party, with no elections for the top post, the entire party political system got poisoned. There are now mostly family parties. Except the BJP. The story has a message.
By resigning you would unleash democratic avalanche in the party political system. For one thing all those failed senior Congress leaders who would not win a Lok Sabha election if they ever tried but occupy chief ministerships or lucrative offices will have to go out without your protection. Last year, when the Congress won in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan you were forced by the Old Guard to reject Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia as chief ministers. The fruit of that blunder became obvious on May 23. Only your going will clean the Augean stables and could revive the oldest party.
Of course, ideally you should have introduced democracy in the party. I recall you were keen to select parliamentary candidates by a primary system. It was a revolutionary idea for India and would have spread had the Congress adopted it. But you were thwarted at first attempt and then you lost interest.
I had lot of hopes when you entered politics in 2004. You had youth, energy and you came in from the outside. But you were never focused. You dropped primaries quickly. You began to run a closed office, difficult to access, even for high-ranking Congress leaders from outside Delhi.
Politics is a 24×7 business. You have to be relentlessly at it, organising the cadres, going around checking their performance, motivating them, managing the relations with other parties, performing in Parliament day in, and day out.
Your parliamentary efforts did improve by the third Parliament. Before that you were too self-indulgent. Your attendance was erratic. The few times you were active your army of chamchas leapt up and said you had made a game-changing intervention. You wrecked the Lokpal Bill by insisting it be a Constitutional amendment. That wink and hug was undignified for a Parliamentarian. Your tearing up of the ordinance on live TV humiliated Manmohan Singh, one of the nicest people forced into politics.
Just go. You are young enough to have a good life. Get away, abroad preferably. Enjoy.